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Bennington Battle Monument

Bennington Battle Monument, Bennington, Vt.

Lighting Research Center

Shedding Light on Historic Monument

At a special Veterans Day evening ceremony, Vermont Governor James Douglas threw the switch to illuminate the historic Bennington Battle Monument for the first time. Approximately 150 spectators cheered as the special energy-efficient lights slowly brightened to their full power, illuminating the state’s tallest structure with four beams carefully aimed to avoid light pollution, trespass, and wasted light.

Providing the research for the new lighting were students from Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center (LRC).

The question of lighting the 306-foot obelisk had been debated for decades. Last year, local officials asked LRC Associate Director Russell Leslie to examine the issue. Leslie turned the question into a student project, and LRC graduate students were challenged to develop a lighting design that would satisfy proponents of lighting the monument as well as those opposed to the idea. Concerns over light pollution, glare trespassing onto neighbors’ properties, and other issues were considered.

Leslie, a Shaftsbury, Vt., resident, said the LRC’s involvement served two purposes. “It served as an educational opportunity for our graduate students, and as a source of objective information for Bennington residents.”

State Senator Vincent Illuzzi, who had worked to secure funding and helped to enact legislation needed to light the monument, said that the LRC student demonstration had shown that the monument could become a beacon. The monument will be lit 150 nights a year, from dusk to 10 p.m. Energy cost estimates have been placed at about $50 to $60 a year.

The Bennington Battle Monument memorializes the Battle of Bennington, fought during the American Revolution.

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Rensselaer Magazine: Spring 2004
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